The worst part of a suspense movie is the silence. You’re on edge, not trusting the tranquility. You know something has to go wrong. The whole edge of your seat aspect sure does get adrenaline going. Once the surprise finally reveals itself, the rush of panic/adrenaline is what people get a kick out of.
Fallout 4, as much as it’s an action game, it’s also one of suspense. You’re never really quite sure what’s around that corner. In most cases it’s some interesting form of death. Mole rats and radscorpions are a great example of that. They can burrow and be silent, travel large distances and show up behind you in a flash. Heck, I found a building that had bags of meat at the front door and not a sound heard in the place. I knew instantly that I was in Super Mutant space and hoofed it out of there. There are plenty of “oh crap” moments in the game, and I know in my case, it’s the reason I keep playing.
And this brings me to Vault 81. I won’t go into complete spoiler territory but I think this is a perfect example of the suspense/surreal aspect of the Fallout universe. People that have played in the past know that every single vault was in reality a social experiment. Either their water would fail, their doors had issues, psychological testing would take place or any other weird mix. In Fallout 3, while it seemed normal, in fact the doors were never supposed to open. The overseer changed that.
Vault 81 seems entirely normal when you visit it. The people are normal, and I don’t mean freakishly so. There’s a cheating couple, a drug user, kids, a doctor, cooks and a balanced overseer. You run a few quests, get introed to the group and the entire time you’re looking at the corners for something to go wrong. The music is even calming and quiet. You’re always looking for something bad to happen, and it never does. It’s like an eternal tease.
And of course, the shoe actually drops and you get to explore the “bad side” of the vault and get a new companion for your troubles. It’s really like a mirror universe, truth be told and very surreal. If each environment was taken on their own, then it would be easy to digest. Taken together, it really highlights a big gap between both.
Pacing is key, and more so in suspense. Fallout 4 is hitting the right notes for me.